Who was Dr. Strangelove? Book and Film Review
Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove
Edward Teller Obit
Wernher von Braun
Inside the Making of Dr. Stranglove
Herman Kahn, Rand Corp's Nuclear Guru
Who was Dr. Strangelove, anyway? "Doomsday Men"
The question of the identity of Dr. Strangelove is not susceptible to a ready answer. In his review of P.D. Smith's new book, "Doomsday Men," William Grimes answers thusly:
"Just who is the real Dr. Strangelove referred to in the book's subtitle, for example? It should be Leo Szilard, the closest thing to a protagonist that the book can claim. But Szilard, perhaps the most brilliant of the 'Hungarian quartet' involved in developing the atom bomb, clearly understood the dangers of a nuclear world. Far from reveling in the the destructive power of the new super weapons, he campaigned tirelessly to promote international control of atomic energy.
"Edward Teller, a more likely candidate, does not play an important enough role in the narrative to deserve subtitle billing, and in any case Stanley Kubrick, the director of 'Dr. Strangelove,' probably fashioned his deranged hero by assembling spare parts from any number of nuclear scientists, notably Teller and Wernher von Braun, the creator of the Nazi V-2 rocket and, after the war, the mastermind behind the American missile program. Slate's Bruce Gottlieb votes for a mixture of Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger, Edward Teller and von Braun. Kahn is a good candidate because he was Rand Corporation's nuclear guru not coincidentally similar to Strangelove's connection to the "Bland Corporation." Kissinger was a relatively unknown professor at Harvard in 1963 when the movie was made. Gottiieb speculates that Kissinger may have "unconsciously patterned himself after Strangelove."
"It was indeed Szilard, however, who put the idea of a cobalt bomb into the public's mind. On a radio program in 1950 devoted to the H-bomb, he pointed out that it would be relatively easy to rig a hydrogen bomb with a substance--he later identified cobalt as ideal for the purpose--that would capture the neutrons released by the bomb, turn radioactive and then spread out across the Earth, enveloping the planet in what one of the characters in "Dr. Strangelove" calls a 'doomsday shroud.'"
Other real life individuals satirized in "Dr. Strangelove"--Adlai Stevenson (Merkin Muffley, America's president played by Peter Sellers); and General Curtis LeMay (General Buck Turgidson played by George C. Scott).
"Doomsday Men" by P.D. Smith reviewed in the NYTimes by William Grimes
Curtis Lemay, SAC Commander
George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson
"Dr. Strangelove" is Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece and my all time favorite movie. If you haven't seen it don't let another day pass without a trip to your nearest video rental for a copy.
"Dr. Strangelove" was made in 1964, in the middle of the Cold War nuclear standoff known as "mutually assured destruction (MAD)". Edward Teller had invented the hydrogen bomb not long before and was giving speeches around the country advocating a bomb shelter in every back yard in America. Kubrick's movie impaled this insanity with the satirical humor of Dr. Strangelove.
Peter Sellers, at the peak of his career, played three roles in the movie--Dr. Strangelove, an amalgam of Edward Teller, Henry Kissinger and nuclear war theorist Herman Kahn; the President of the U.S. and Group Captain Mandrake, an RAF liaison, the man who tried to prevent nuclear armageddon. Others in the star-studded cast included George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson (Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis Lemay), Sterling Hayden, General Jack D. Ripper, the Air Force Generral with his finger on the nuclear button and Slim Pickens as Major Kong in the memorable final scene of the movie. I've linked one video of a scene from the movie and will try to find a couple more. This is an absolutely "must see" movie!!